Lower House Spends Day Discussing TV Crisis
The Lower House of Czech parliament has spent whole Friday from 10 am until late night hours discussing the crisis situation surrounding Czech Television which resulted from the appointment of a new director, Jiri Hodac. Hodac is under heavy pressure to resign after accusations of political bias. Mr. Hodac himself remains in hospital where he was taken on Thursday after what appeared to be a breakdown caused by exhaustion. Mr. Hodac was chosen last month by the Czech Television Council, dominated by the two main parties, the ruling Social Democrats and the main opposition Civic Democrats.
The lower house will meet again on January 12, to discuss a legal amendment to replace the Television Council which selected Hodac, with a new one whose members would be proposed by professional and civic groups, not by politicians.
The leader of the main opposition Civic Democratis Party and speaker of the Lower House, Vaclav Klaus, has repeatedly spoken in favour of privatising Czech Television. Klaus claims that Czech Television is a non-transparent organisation, wasting its budget, which comes from subscription fees, and that the council in charge of overseeing the station is a toothless body, unable to effectively supervise the station. He also considers the current dispute surrounding the newly appointed director, Jiri Hodac, as an intentionally provoked crisis aimed at destabilising the political scene and redistributing power. Representatives of some other parties describe Klaus's suggestions as an effort to distract attention from his party's own attempts to gain influence over Czech Television.
Austrian anti-nuclear activists continue with their campaign against the controversial Temelin nuclear power station in South Bohemia. During protest action on Friday, campaigners blocked the streets of Linz by driving their cars slowly around the town. They also presented the Upper Austrian Governor and the head of the local Chamber of Commerce with a list of demands, including halting nuclear fission in Temelin until thorough testing has been completed. The protest was meant as a message to the Austrian government that in the event that the recent agreement between the Czech and Austrian governments concerning Temelin fails to materialise, they are ready to renew blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings. The agreement included setting up a telephone hotline between Prague and Vienna, and compiling a new environmental impact study for Temelin.
Czech president Vaclav Havel is to meet his counterparts from the other member countries of the Visegrad group, which comprises of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, next week. They will discuss cooperation in EU accession preparations, and membership prospects following the EU summit in Nice last December. The Visegrad Group presidents last met at the end of 1999.
Ice hockey - and the Czechs have defended their title of world champions after they beat Finland 2:1 at the World Junior Championship in Moscow on Friday. In the year 2000, the Czech junior team won the title for the first time.
And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting a cloudy day with rain showers. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 5 to 9 degrees Celsius. Sunday should be much the same, cloudy with rain showers and snow in higher altitudes, afternoon highs between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.
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